Monday, January 15, 2007

Lives in Letters: Postcard from Central Maine

Just a quick postcard this week, but one I found intriguing.

Norridgewock, Maine
August 19, 1935

Addressed to
Miss Lucy C-
St. Albans Maine

Wed. Morning-
Dear Miss C-
Montie is staying
with his brother Merle.
Was over last evening and
looked fine and said he
was feeling much better.
He stays with Merle so
as to have it quiet.
Said to tell you if noth-
ing happens and bad
spell doesn’t return, he
will get Merle to bring
him back a week from
Sunday, 30th of August.
Regards, Alice H.
I'm not sure why I'm fascinated by postcards like this, but I suppose it's because of the stories I can invent around the brief messages.
For instance, I wonder who Miss Lucy C is. Who is she to Montie, that she'd be getting updates about where he is? And why wouldn't Montie send his own updates?
Who's Alice? Neither Lucy nor she seem like they could be related to Montie and Merle. Why would these two women exchange messages about the men?
I wonder what the bad spell could have been. Polio perhaps. Although plenty of other diseases were available to choose from at the time: influenza, malaria, tuberculosis....
Where is Norridgewock, Maine? About smack-dab in the middle of Maine, maybe a little southeast of the middle. Near Colby college (which by the way, opened its doors back when Maine was part of Massachusetts). It was the filming spot for the 2005 HBO movie Empire Falls. Here's a little history, circa 1886 of Norridgewock. Although this history was written 50 years before the postcard, from all signs on the web, the town did not change much in the interim.
St. Albans, where Miss Lucy C was receiving this postcard, was 30 miles away from Norridgewock. Again, from what I can find out, St. Albans was a similarly small and remote town.
For the life of me, I can't figure out who Alice and Lucy were to Montie. No matter how many times I read this, no story I come up with makes sense.


Stidmama said...

Here's my take: "bad spell" could be seizures, something we deal with in our family on occasion. Excitement can trigger them.

"Miss C" is Lucy and Montie's teacher, or former teacher. My great grandfather wrote in a similar tone of voice to his 7th or 8th grade teacher when he left school in the 'teens.

Lucy and Montie are (or have been) on their summer vacation with their family/ies, and she is following the long tradition of writing "a few lines" as a measure of respect and friendship.

Or perhaps (this being the middle of the depression) Lucy -- having married Montie -- is living in a small rented room while he works odd jobs wherever he can find them...

This latter explanation would take care of why Montie doesn't write: he is nowhere around TO write, and his "bad spell" becomes rotten luck, and brother Merle becomes the safe haven to which he has retreated until he gets back on his feet.

Again, similar things happened in my family...

featherbee said...

One thing that always strikes me when reading old postcards is the penmanship on them. Handwriting 50-100 years ago and handwriting today just aren't the same!

Nancy said...

Nicely done Stidmama!

I had thought teacher perhaps as well.